In 1852 Mount de Sales was founded for the education of young women by a group of Visitation nuns from Georgetown. The first Catholic institution in Baltimore County to offer education to young women of all denominations, Mount de Sales’ earliest students represented nearly all states, as well as several European and Latin American countries. The school was set in the pastoral landscape of Catonsville, at that time home to many summer residences of well-to-do Baltimoreans. Even St. John Neumann once visited the school. As Mount de Sales gradually became more day than boarding school, boarding was discontinued in 1932.
Although they did enter the classroom to teach, the Visitation nuns remained cloistered over the years, and traces of the original grilles, turnstiles, cloister garden, and convent sleeping quarters are still very much in evidence around the school today. In fact, in 1986 the building was added to the Maryland Historic Register.
In 1979, when the Visitation nuns could no longer continue at the school, a dedicated lay Board of Trustees was assembled with the goal of maintaining and growing Mount de Sales Academy. They wanted a group of religious sisters dedicated to Catholic education to continue at the Academy, and in 1985, the Dominican Sisters of the Saint Cecilia Congregation in Nashville, Tennessee, responded to the call and took up residence in the historic Gate House.
The Pistorio Sports Complex was added to the campus in 1998 and the old Infirmary, which now houses the development office, was renovated in 2001. Since 1985, the school’s enrollment has increased close to 170%. Almost 45% of the Academy’s living graduates are under the age of 30. Now the Dominican Sisters reside at the new Mount de Sales convent, which was completed in the Spring of 2011.
Mount de Sales Academy continues to thrive because of the generosity and dedication of its past friends and benefactors. Since 1852, there has been a strong communal bond among faculty, students, parents, and alumnae.